In 1973, Gerhard Richter created a series of paintings titled “Annunciation after Titian.” The works were based on a postcard of Titian’s original painting in Venice’s Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Richter blurred and abstracted the form and color of the postcard, resulting in five variations on a 1535 idea. While Richter’s 1973 production is largely abstract, the Annunciations after Titian are the only exceptions.
The series represents the same announcement of the Incarnation as Titian’s original, but with even softer brushstrokes, resulting in what is often referred to as an “indeterminate painting.” The cloud in Richter’s “Annunciation After Titian” has deliquesced into an even blur. Richter’s work is wildly diverse, and the painting is part of a massive retrospective at the Tate Modern, where it sits alongside nearly 175 other paintings from 1973.
Despite its photo-realistic style, the Annunciation after Titian is a blend of abstraction and reality, a product of Richter’s desire to challenge traditional interpretations of art. The painting is both unsettlingly intimate and puzzlingly diverse, reflecting the experimental nature of Richter’s work in the 1970s. As a result, the Annunciation after Titian remains one of Richter’s most intriguing works, and it continues to inspire lovers of abstract art to this day.